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Dr Zhou isn't exactly the best professor out there, but his accent really wasn't that bad for me imo like the other reviewers suggested. I could understand the words he was speaking, but I think the problem is that he assumes we have a strong physics background and thus glosses over some concepts or wasn't too organized with the structure of his lectures. I felt like the class took a dip after the midterm, and it got messier. However I genuinely enjoyed the course material as I really enjoyed microscopy in my lab and even though this barely pertained to what I did in research, it was still pretty cool to learn about other microscopy methods (fun fact! There are MANY different kinds of microscopes out there!). You might find this a little dry or hard to understand if you don't do research or just aren't that interested in microscopy. It gets very technical at times so be prepared for that too.
Definitely come into this class reviewing your knowledge of light rays and diffraction. No math or computation involved, but Dr. Zhou assumes you have a good background in physics. Do watch the 3Blue1Brown series on youtube on Fourier Series + Fourier transformation, but even then they are insufficient in teaching you about Fourier transformation pertaining to microscopy (you should still watch the videos though, fourier transformation is a huge leap in physics concepts and the series helped to bridge my understanding). For that part, I recommend consulting your TA and definitely don't feel ashamed asking about every single dumb detail you are confused about, because it will help.
Overall I think Dr. Zhou is really concerned about student wellbeing and he is an empathetic lecturer, and I really appreciate that. He might seem aloof and monotonous at times, but I feel like he's genuinely (like) an Asian dad who doesn't know how to show his emotions but is actually very concerned about whatever difficulties you might encouneter. He knows and understands the pandemic is hard on all of us and tried his best to make the exams easier (even though it might still be a little tough due to his lecture style). He also extended the final project deadline so there's that.
Weng back and forth to be honest and fair. This was the worse class I have ever taken in college. It was not the hardest nor had the most work. Lectures are unclear, and going to office hours was a waste of time. TA was very helpful but it just a huge lack of clarity. Guest professors were better then the main one. I’d recommend taking another class as an elective
Taking this class was a horrible and stressful experience. The material is extremely boring and most of the time nobody has any idea what is going on because the professor is really bad at explaining what should be fairly straightforward concepts. There’s no coherent textbook or anything so your only source of information will be the lectures and a myriad of random articles on the website. The workload isn’t that large but studying for exams is difficult when there is no clear guidelines on what you should be studying. You will not remember anything you learn in this class after it ends anyway, so please avoid this class at all costs if possible.
I have never written a Bruinwalk review, but I figured that since I forgot to write Zhou's review on the UCLA eval I should at least warn my fellow Bruins of this class. I see that my fellow classmates from Fall 2018 are already on top of it though as I already see other reviews on here and they're both completely correct.
I took this class with a friend thinking it'd be a chill MCDB elective and boy was I wrong. Zhou is a good guy and he's really passionate about what he teaches. He's just really, really bad at it. It doesn't help that he has a heavy accent and isn't the loudest. You have to REALLY pay attention to what he's saying and even then we learn a lot of concepts that you won't understand how it actually works, you just have to know what it is and that is does something, but you won't get how it actually works because it's too theoretical and if you really want to learn you need to spend a lot of time on Google (and considering that a lot of the material is pretty dense, niche information, this is pretty hard too). That said though, the class isn't impossible. I didn't pay attention for 2/3 of the quarter but when I saw how bad I did on the midterm and quizzes and that the final was coming I knew I had to get my shit together so I started actually paying attention around Week 7 and I managed to scrap by with an A- in the class. My other friends in the class actually paid attention (as best they could) and they did much better so there u go. If you're interested in research, this class will give you lots of background and understanding of the different types of microscopy and what they're used for and how, so it can be pretty cool to supplement this together with another class to see the applications. But pretty much 90% of the class wasn't paying attention or understanding what he was talking about most of the time.
The workload isn't hard-there really isn't any assigned work to do besides the eventual lab report, which makes it easy to not pay attention during lecture (which is what will catch u offguard on the quizzes). But if you don't understand the material it will be very hard to study for the midterm and final simply because you have nothing to learn off of in the first place-hence, watch the grant jenson videos and google as I'll explain below.
There are 2 other guest lecturers who lecture about 2 class sessions each, they're MUCH clearer and better than Zhou. Look forward to those at least.
-Midterm (LOOK AT PAST MIDTERMS. The test bank is your best friend. seriously, he reused probably 80% of the questions. They will save you)
-Final (good luck, he changed it for our year but still look at past midterm exams and just understand big concepts. He had a lot of poorly worded MCs).
-Lab Report (not bad, but a pain in the ass. Go to your TA to ask them what to do, hopefully you have a good one)
-Lab participation (just go to the biweekly labs and take notes. you mainly just see what you talked about in class, not actually doing lab work)
-Quizzes (3 throughout the quarter-he gives no heads up about these so if you feel like it's been a while since he's quizzed you guys and it feels prime time for one, you should get ready)
Tips if you HAVE to take this class:
-WATCH THE GRANT JENSON CALTECH VIDEOS. You don't need to see all of them, but definitely watch what you think is the most important and relevant to the course. Especially because he covers a lot of concepts that Zhou will go over in lecture but he doesn't explain them well even if they're not hard concepts to understand. If you're utterly lost or just want more clarification, Grant Jenson does a great job in explaining the concepts in a way that actually makes sense (these are what I watched the 2 weeks leading up to the final)
-GO TO TA OFFICE HOURS-IF they're good. The only saving grace in this class was our TA Jiayan (bless her soul) who, although some of her explanations were still kind of confusing, she really cared and wanted to help students. So use them!! If not, Google and Grant Jenson are your best friends
Zhou is a nice guy who's really, really passionate about what he does. He's just really, really bad at teaching it. If you're interested in microscopes and research, this is the class for you. If not, good luck. Either way, good luck and try your best to pay attention to what he's saying even because if you do things will make more sense.
Like the other reviewers said, this class is a lot more difficult than the distribution suggests. It uses a lot of physics concepts that were briefly mentioned in Physics 5/6, but in much more depth, and in application to microscopy. It's definitely a good class if you're really interested in research, but I found the material rather tedious and boring, and the class is definitely hard to follow along- Dr. Zhou does have a heavy accent and there were always people sleeping in class LOL
Your grade consists of 3 in class pop quizzes, one lab report, one midterm, and one final. The examinations are rather difficult, but it'll help to get old exams from the test bank and figure out what the correct answers are, because he does reuse a lot of his old questions. The TA was super sweet, knowledgeable, and helpful, and she was definitely willing to explain your mistakes on the test + give you extra points if you explain what you were trying to say. She was also super helpful in debugging the entire microscopy program that we had to use for our lab report, and she'll give you pointers/read over your draft to guide you in the right direction.
I really didn't expect to do that well in this class, but I guess it was a pretty universal feeling that everyone was doing rather horribly. The curve is really generous and you do end up with a good score, but honestly, I would rather take another elective than go through that level of angst and struggle ever again.
As of the class material itself, it is not a breeze but definitely doable if you put in effort. The class is consisted of a few quizzes, 1 midterm and 1 final. The exams were combination of MCQs and short answers. The questions were not tricky since they were testing if you understand the concept of different microscopy techniques. If you study the readers that professor gives, you will be able to understand what's important. The lectures attendance were mandatory.
Dr. Zhou is definitely a nice person who does care about well-being of his students. He often accommodated needs of students along the way. However, he is not the lecturer of my style. The way he presents information is not neatly organized that I often found myself lost in the middle of lecture without knowing what is the main idea of the lecture. For me, the main source of learning was studying the slides and readers by myself.
I got a lot of help from TA, who has been a real support in terms of helping me to understand the lecture materials. Although there was not a scheduled TA OH, he was willing to schedule group OH upon students request. I am not sure if he will continue doing it. Nevertheless, getting support from TA in this class was very helpful for me.
MIMG105 was very difficult conceptually, but the content was interesting and the lab demonstrations were really fascinating.
Dr. Zhou’s lectures were straight-forward — I found it easy to understand him, though he spoke a bit too quietly at times. The other lecturers were really engaging. It’s apparent that they are very passionate about the material.
Studying for the class was a bit difficult because we were only given lecture slides that were difficult to interpret with little context. I used a lot of online resources including YouTube and general microscopy resource websites. Plenty of physics concepts that are difficult to understand, such as Fourier transforms (which I’m not even sure I understand now).
Labs were straight-forward and not stressful at all. The lab report was time-consuming to do, and I would have struggled heavily if I didn’t start it as early as I did — which isn’t an option for everyone.
The class was curved so that at least 50% of students got an overall grade of A- or better, which is quite generous for an upper-div MIMG class. Dr. Zhou also stated that no one has failed the class historically. Without the curve I would have probably had a C+ instead.
Overall, not an easy class, but definitely doable considering the curve and support from the lecturers and TA.